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tonight on "worldfocus" -- haiti is rocked by a strong aftershock shaking buildings and sending people into the streets. meanwhile, many in that devastated country are asking where is their government? you don't need oil to run electric cars. but you do need batteries. we take to you a poor country that may be on the verge of you becoming the saudi arabia of south america thanks to lithium. and in italy. the government wants to know why that country's food staple costs so much. could someone be fixing the price of pasta? tonight we noodle it over. from the different perspectives of reporters and analysts from around the globe, this is "worldfocus." major support has been provided by rosalind p. walter and the
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peter g. peterson foundation, dedicated to promoting fiscal responsibility and addressing key economic challenges facing america's future. and additional funding is provided by the following supporters -- good evening. i'm martin savidge. thank you for joining us. it was just what haiti not the need. one of the most powerful aftershocks since the devastating earthquake that hit that country eight days ago. today's aftershock had a magnitude of 5.9. it rumbled through the ruined capital port-au-prince for 15 or 20 uneasy seconds. stephan bachenheimer of our german partner describes what it felt like. >> well, i woke up this morning just a minute or two after 6:00. when i woke up, i heard already people screaming outside. all the people who are staying outside. it did not manage to do much damage with existing structures.
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but the rubble of course, might have shifted in the city. >> in fact, some aid workers said the aftershock, combined with light rain, has complicated rescue efforts because it has made the debris more compact. at least two more people were pulled out alive but after eight days, these are clearly desperate hours for anyone still alive in the wreckage. though improving, international aid effort is still falling far short of what's needed and is described by the associated press in haiti as unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. hundreds of thousands remain homeless and hungry, despite the massive international campaign. once again, we look at how our partners are covering this story. and tonight we want to get at the role of the beleaguered government in haiti. as zeina khodr of al jazeera english discovered, it, too, is devastated. >> pressing questions haitians are still asking. when will aid reach them? who will help them survive the devastating earthquake? as more and more people lose
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faith in the state, authorities are on the defensive. >> they are giving food and water to the people. and two hours after that, we left. and i asked to go to ask the people, did you eat? did you drink? they say no. >> the government itself was a victim of the quake. it now functions out of this parking lot at a police station trying with their few resources to govern and manage a country facing a catastrophe. >> i believe right now is, what is needed is to be able to improve the coordination between the state who are probably much more closer to the people and to indicate to the donors where to go. >> some aid is being delivered but the international community is facing an overwhelming task. >> i'm here at the front yard of
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the prime minister's office. just like many government institutions, it was damaged by the earthquake. it is grounds now to least 2,000 homeless haitians. people say they haven't heard from their government since the disaster. >> reporter: marie jean is not only worrying about trying to get through the days. she has been poor all her life and wonders who will take care of her now that she lost her husband and five children. >> i want to see a change in this country, this government. our living conditions, i want the international community to help. >> what worries beatrice is whether the international community will be committed for the long haul. it could take years before she can continue her education, her university was one of many which collapsed. >> the country doesn't have a government. if there was a real government, this country would never be in this situation. >> the international community is rescuing and supporting us. the haitian government doesn't have the means to do athing. >> it hasn't collapsed was what
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president preval told his people but has only lost its capacity to function properly. even before this disaster, many haitians looked to the government with mistrust. as it tries its best to respond to the crisis, it may well have to struggle even harder to restore the confidence of the people. al jazeera, port-au-prince. >> for more now on the relief effort, we're joined here by tom arnold, chief executive of concern worldwide and concern worldwide u.s. the organization has worked for 40 years in the front lines of some of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. tom arnold spent two days in haiti earlier this week. thank you for joining us. we're hearing these reports about the haitian government. the one we saw right now, being almost invisible since this quake has struck. from a person who has been down there and seen firsthand, is it that way? is really the government sort of folded into the background? e government wasn't very visible.
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and the question is now over the last couple days, i think slightly more visible, they did take the important decision to hand the airport over to the u.s. for temporarily so that planes could start coming in and they are beginning to come in now in very significant numbers. i think today, they're expecting something over 200 flights. so the question is, i think, how can you move on from there to getting the supplies which are arriving at the airport, getting them in to use on the ground. >> let's talk about that. we hear these reports of the massive bottleneck where you have aid that has arrived, but apparently has not made it to the streets and the people. and have you seen that as well? >> well, what i saw in the last couple of days is an improvement in this regard. concern certainly has been managing to distribute some food. we're distributing water and that would be increased very rapidly over the coming days. the other question is, the other issue is that a lot of the
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agencies are now there and getting the proper coordination so that people know where they're working, what they're supposed to be doing, and you know, providing the aid directly to people. >> and these bottlenecks where they exist, is it because of the lack of coordination? or is it because of the physical turmoil of the streets blocked and the geography change? >> the physical turmoil is definitely a factor. the other important factor is that the of action. for a country as dependent on imports as haiti is, that's a real problem. so i think it is a question of identifying what are the key things that need to be done over the coming days and getting the coordination. but i think aid is beginning to get through. i think that's an important message. >> how long do you think it will be before there is a regular supply of food and water getting to the streets? >> i would say it will take certainly another week or so before, i would say widespread access to food and water and i
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hope it can be achieved. beyond that, you have a major issue of the many thousands of people who are displaced from their homes. many are afraid to go back into their homes in any event because of fear of additional quakes. a lot of people living in what they call tent villages. >> i don't want to let time slip away. people want to help. they want to do something. can they go physically? >> well, concern, i wouldn't encourage in the short term people to go because i think you need experience to be in there. there are people living there for 16 years. we have well established programs. our first need is money at the moment. i think a bit further down the line, there will be skill gaps which we perhaps would, we could fill with appropriately skilled people. for the moment, we want to leave the people who are really experienced to deal with this problem. >> tom arnold. thank you very much. for more about how to donate to haiti relief, please go to our website which is worldfocus.org.
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as we look beyond the headlines, a story in the "wall street journal" caught our eye today. on the emergence of a new competition for natural resources in south america. in this, the age of the electric car. we're talking about lithium, the metal used in the batteries that power most hybrid and electric cars. the paper reports that japan's toyota has edged out chinese buyers to secure a long-term source of lithium inrgentina. the journal says, the investment would give toyota, the largest seller of hybrid vehicles, as well as japanese battery makers a secure supply of lithium rather than lead leave them at the mercy of a few producers. if there is some fear, supplies tighten in coming years. that leads us to tonight's signature story. a firsthand look at the emerging lithium industry in a region known as solar de uyuni in the
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south american nation of bolivia. beneath the salt flats there are their lieses of lithium, which business, and the bolivian government are eager to mine. it is not exactly a gold rush at this point, but many see it as the key to a brighter future. >> reporter: welcome. this is the largest salt flat in the world. with the only sight, a vast expanse of blinding white. located near the border with chile, it is a popular tourist attraction but recently, this desolate landscape has captured world's attention for another reason. the discovery of a rare metal. underneath this brown lies what is believed to be one of the world's largest reserves of lithium. a metal crucial for electric cars and other alternative energy technologies. but who will benefit from this
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discovery is creating controversy. lithium, as it turns out, is ideal for making batteries, and as countries around the world rush to develop electric cars, the demand for it grows each day. just when the metal is becoming more important, american automakers may find it harder to obtain. with the solar discovery, bolivia controls half the world's lithium reserves. this is a senior mining official for the bolivian government. >> bolivia is rich in natural resources but over the last few centuries, barely any of the profits have stayed here. we don't want the same thing for lithium. >> reporter: according to him, the reason poverty is so widespread in bolivia is because of past exploitation. this time, he says, things will be different. >> translator: a lot of companies have approached us and we've told them any profits must stay in bolivia.
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if they are willing to invest on those terms, then they're welcome. >> reporter: he is betting those profits will be huge. lithium currently sell for $300 a pound. in the solar, it is believed there are millions of tons of it. the government is building a processing plant of its own, pressing ahead without foreign help. that has provoked criticism from people like this man. enrique was once the vice minister of mining for bolivia. that is a replica of an old mine in his backyard. now as he consultant to the might know industry. >> the government cannot do it on their own because they don't have the technology, they don't have the know-how, they don't have the money so they need somebody. >> reporter: during our visit to the lithium solar region, the
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rainy season had just ended an much of it was coated in water turning it into a giant mirror. the government hopes that someday, this lithium processing plant will be more than just a source of jobs. with the new lithium money, it tire community growing and prospering here complete with a school and farm. this person is the project supervisor. lying his bosses back in the capital of la paz, he, too, believes this dusty hillside will one day be a worker's paradise. >> translator: here you can't think about yourself. you have to believe that you're part of an historic opportunity. you have to love every brick you lay. and the only way to do that is if you're convinced that this project which will have improve the quality of life for the community. >> reporter: we were eager to talk with the workers to see how they felt about life at the lithium plant. but the government wouldn't allow it. up the road, we met a herder and an elder of a nearby village. we asked him about the government's plan to develop the
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region. lopez told us that lately, he's seen a lot of improvements in the area including new bridges and better electricity. these days, he said, the government is paying more attention to the countryside. around here, that opinion is common. the solar is one of the poorest areas in bolivia and support for the socialist government runs high. as evening approached as we were wrapping up our visit, we met these men. harvesting salts have been a source of income around here for generations. it is back breaking work. the heaps of salt weighing as much as 2,000 pounds apiece. these workers keep their faces covered as protection against the blinding light. we asked one of them, max about, the future. max believes good things will happen because of lithium. maybe not for me, he said, but
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one day i believe my son will have a good job in a lithium plant. i'm ivette feliciano reporting for bolivia. that brings us to our continuing series, obama and the world. tonight on the anniversary of president obama's inauguration, we look at the president and latin america, which presents a broad range of challenges and opportunities for the united states. we're joined here once again by christopher sabbatini, senior director of policy at the council of the americas, and shannon o'neil, a latin american specialist with the council for foreign relations. welcome. let's begin with this piece we just saw. it is obviously about a natural resource, lithium. bolivia come to the forefront. argentina also. are we looking, and is the world looking at south america, latin america in a new way because of these resources? >> you know, the world looked at latin america for resources for decades.
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we've seen especially last decade, countries like china, the united states, of course, other countries around the world coming to latin america for all sorts of resources. lithium is a big one but we see soy, iron ore, copper, a basket for the rest of the world. >> is that a concern for the united states? if we see japan and especially if we see china coming to south america, are we not there or where we should be, perhaps? >> it is an zero sum game. we trade with china as well. we're not competing for a lot of these resources. in the end, what the demand, is everything from iron ore to chicken parts to soy really helps grow these economies as well. the issue is that a lot of the chinese companies are there just to extract resources. these are the most exploitative industries that many people denounced.they were there extra resources in latin america before. it is more of a concern for the south american countries themselves than it is say for
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the united states they engage in the most abusive labor practices, very little environmental controls. so that is part of the concern. and of course, the other concern is that there is very little value added in a lot of these. they're just taking soybeans out or taking the ore or taking lithium and shipping it to china or india to be produced into final products. a good source of revenue for these countries. it has helped them get through financial crisis of 2008/2009. but it isn't the only ticket out of their dilemma. >> let's break this town as far as our discussion on latin america to individual countries, beginning with cuba. at the beginning of the obama administration, it really seemed like there was going to be a change in the u.s. policy toward cuba. and yet now i don't hear much. has it stalled? >> the worst thing it has even stalled to where we were post clinton. our policy, u.s. policy toward cuba is the same as we had in the first two years of the bush administration which is to say,
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under clinton, we had a very liberal licensing agreement for educational and scientific exchange programs. obama hasn't even changed that. what he has done, he's lifted some of the most restricted measures on cuban americans to be able to travel to the island on remittances to visit relatives on the island but we haven't even gone pre-bush. in terms of bilateral relations, there was flirtation if you will. the first raul castro said everything would be on the table. then his big brother fidel came out from the hospital and rose from the hospital bed and said no. we aren't going to discuss political prisoners. we aren't fg to discuss human rights. at that point things pretty much froze. there were some other marginal discussions on reestablishing mail connections. but what happened in the last month with the arrest of the u.s. contractor who was delivering lap tops to cuba, who is now being charged with espionage in cuba, is clearly a demonstration the cuba an government is ramping up it's
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pressure on the obama administration to either embarrass it or to move on the policy. i don't think that will happen. >> let's move on to venezuela. a hugo chavez is still there and he is still economically and militarily in power and using his influence. has there been any change in america's policy this? any indication that obama plans something different? >> we've seen obama over the last year damp down the rhetoric from the u.s. side. there is some interchange there but it is longer the vitriol with the bush administration. that said, hugo chavez still needs a foil. he looks to the united states. he looks to colombia his neighbor for this. so we'll see that vitriol coming from the venezuelan side but we've seen some change in the rhetoric toward venezuela.
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>> speaking of colombia being right next door, the united states expanded its bases, or wanted to increase its presence in that country. how is that going over in the rest of latin america? >> it has been quite difficult. the announcement came out the colombians said that, countries like brazil and others in the southern cone quite wary about what u.s. intentions were in materials of expanding the presence. was it really just to continue the drug war as it is, or was it for something else? that was a worry for all of the neighbors. we saw a bit, very problematic for the obama administration with countries that we're trying to form closer relationships with. what is the concern? are we falling back to the bad old days? >> i think there is a knee jerk anti-yankee sentiment that people like chavez will always play to and score cheap political points on. in this case thereas

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Worldfocus
WHUT January 20, 2010 7:00pm-7:20pm EST

News/Business. Daljit Dhaliwal. (2010) (CC) (Stereo)

program was likely cut short due to a recording issue

TOPIC FREQUENCY Bolivia 9, U.s. 7, Haiti 7, United States 6, Cuba 5, Us 5, China 4, Obama Administration 3, Tom Arnold 3, South America 3, Hugo Chavez 2, Venezuela 2, Toyota 2, Port-au-prince 2, America 2, Colombia 2, Martin Savidge 1, Stephan Bachenheimer 1, Marie Jean 1, Christopher Sabbatini 1
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